We analysed the supportive social networks associated with the conservation of six threatened Australian bird taxa, in one of the first network analyses of threatened species conservation programmes. Each example showed contrasting vulnerabilities. The Alligator Rivers yellow chat Epthianura crocea tunneyi had the smallest social network and no real action was supported. For the Capricorn yellow chat Epthianura crocea macgregori the network was centred on one knowledgeable and committed actor. The orange-bellied parrot Neophema chrysogaster had a strongly connected recovery team but gaps in the overall network could limit communication. The recovery teams for the swift parrot Lathamus discolor and Baudin's black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus baudinii had strong links among most stakeholders but had weak ties to the timber industry and orchardists, respectively, limiting their capacity to manage threatening processes. Carnaby's black cockatoo Calyptorhynchus latirostris seemed to have the most effective social network of any of the taxa studied but may be vulnerable to skill shortages. In each case the network analysis pointed to gaps that could be filled to enhance the conservation effort, and highlighted the importance of recovery teams. The research suggests that formal network analysis could assist in the design of more effective support mechanisms for the conservation of threatened species.